ANTHRAX Bassist: 'We're More Relevant Than Ever'
ANTHRAX bassist Frank Bello was interviewed on the November 2-4 edition of Full Metal Jackie's nationally syndicated radio show. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below.
To see a full list of stations carrying the program and when it airs, go to FullMetalJackieRadio.com.
Full Metal Jackie: The last couple of years have been a whirlwind for ANTHRAX — [singer] Joey Belladonna rejoined the band, you had the "Big Four" shows [with METALLICA, MEGADETH and SLAYER], "Worship Music" being released, a year-long tour with TESTAMENT and DEATH ANGEL. How important has all of that been in setting up the future of ANTHRAX?
Bello: You just said it — it's all one. The "Big Four," actually, gave ANTHRAX a kick in the ass to really get going. We were working on songs — Scott [Ian, guitar], Charlie [Benante, drums] and I — and that made us really get back to being a serious band again. We were working and saying, "We need to get a record out," and that made us finish the record. I tip my hat to METALLICA for doing that for us. They didn't have to put the "Big Four" together and they did and it worked out really nicely and there's a whole new fan base with that, which is great.
Full Metal Jackie: Right now, you're recording a few cover tunes for an expanded re-release of "Worship Music" — like JOURNEY, BOSTON, RUSH. How have those bands influenced a faster, heavier band like ANTHRAX?
Bello: ANTHRAX, we've done this stuff forever — those are our influences, honestly, whether you want to take JOURNEY and the melodic influences — great band, great musicians. I think it's like a sponge thing like BOSTON — great harmonies, great vocals, great guitar. All of these things, these are the things we've grown up with and we would probably jam at soundcheck. We never really play ANTHRAX songs. Music's supposed to be fun and we play ANTHRAX for the set, but it's just so much fun to get it together. What we've always been known to do is to put these on a B-side and people just really dig it. I dig it — I did the JOURNEY song yesterday, this is what we do and just the fun part about it is to hear the result. Joey, at times, can sound like Steve Perry, and I haven't even heard his vocals on it and to hear him sing BOSTON — it's going to be fun, I can't wait to hear the finished product. This is special for the fans — you get the re-release, yes, but there's always a little something different on top of it, so I think it's a special thing later on.
Full Metal Jackie: What did it feel like for you guys to come back with a new record in this time in terms of music and have it receive such high praise?
Bello: You know what it is: after eight years, first off, it was hard enough to get the record out, just because getting management, lawyers out of the way all that garbage that gets in the way of music and personalities. We knew what we wanted ANTHRAX to be again — the real deal — so, again, I'll go back to "Big Four," it really gave us a kick in the ass to get back and really clear everything to go forward. "Worship Music", we knew we had something special. We got Joey in on it, and that was the cherry on top of it all. We're fans of this music, so we knew we had something good. Thankfully, the people, the fan base, has taken on this record — this is our biggest-selling record in a long time. It's just done really well, thank God, and thank the fans out there [for their] great support. That's why we're still on tour. In three weeks, we leave for a MOTÖRHEAD tour — pretty much all sold out in Europe, which is crazy. Think about it, 30 years in, Jackie, who would have thought we're still around — ANTHRAX, MOTÖRHEAD in Europe, selling out places. We're very lucky, we're humbled. It's a really nice thing that's going on and we couldn't be happier; we're stoked.
Full Metal Jackie: In "Greetings From Tim Buckley", you play Richard Hell and you've done TV and other films too, like "One Long Day". How does the rush of acting compare to the rush of playing music?
Bello: It's weird that you say that, and thank you for mentioning it. It's the same thing for me. It's really like writing a song. And I don't want to talk acting nonsense, but putting little pieces together, like a chorus or verse and stuff like that, I like just being somebody else. I think it's really cool to be somebody else, so when you sink yourself into it, it's just like a song, it's this little life — you give a song life. It's the same vibe in my gut that makes me feel good. I have a fire for this music, [and] I've always had a fire for acting. Who gives a fuck about fame? It means nothing. We all know fame is bullshit. The whole thing of being a working actor really turns me on, because it's being somebody else for a little while. Being able to create gets something out of me that I need to get out — I don't know what it is but it's a lot of fun and I hope to do more. It was a blast.
Full Metal Jackie: Compare to ten years ago, twenty years ago, what has been the best thing about being in ANTHRAX in 2012?
Bello: Well, right now it's nice to be back, and being accepted by not only our audience but there's a new audience out there: 15-, 16-year-old kids. I got 15-year-old kids coming up to me saying, "You're an influence." You don't realize how good that feels — it's something I've done right in my life and I'm very proud of it. It that kid could pick up a bass and feel the way I feel about it and make his day be a little bit better, that's what it's all about. It's like passing the torch a little bit. We've been lucky, we've had a great time, if I could make somebody feel as good as the bass and music has made me feel, that's what it's all about at this point.
Full Metal Jackie: I feel like ANTHRAX is finally getting the recognition you guys deserve after all of these years, working so hard and putting out music and touring the hell out of your records. I congratulate you guys and I think it's finally your time.
Bello: Thank you. Well, you know, Jackie, people like you and this isn't a kiss-ass — the truth of the matter is we know our friends and people like you have supported the band forever and have been with us along this ride, peaks and valleys. There are no angels in this band — we know you have good times, you have lean times; there have been a lot lean times — but it's good to be back in this kind of way right now. We don't know where it's going to go. We hope it goes further, but we're taking it day to day; it's a good vibe. There's a metal thing going on right now, there's a resurgence that we all know is here, so we're very happy to be part of it. We're humbled that we are still a part of it. 30 years in, come on! We're having a great time. We're more relevant than ever. People love this record. For people to say this is our finest work — which we've heard in a lot of reviews and thank you for that — God, that's all you could really ask. That means it's relevant and it made people feel a certain way and that's what matters. It really got people listening again, and we're ready for it.
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